7/07/2012

Another Wild West Tale

I thought it was time for another bit of Cochise County history this week. Instead of a person or event, we're looking at a place. It's the main employer and biggest presence in our area, which is Ft. Huachuca. It's pronounced wah-choo-ka, in case you're wondering how to wrap your tongue around it. An obscure Indian word that loosely means "place of thunder." 

The whole thing came about in 1877 when Capt. Samuel Whitside and Company B, 6th U.S. Cavalry were tasked with protecting the settlers and controlling the Apaches from finding refuge over the border. Trying to find a good camping place for his men, the Captain settled on a beautiful canyon that was wooded with lots of running water, had excellent places for observation, and plenty of grass for their horses. So Camp Huachuca was established, gaining the title Ft. Huachuca five years later and designated a permanent Army post.

There was a lot of action in the late 1800s--Tombstone was in its heyday, as were several other towns such Charleston, Fairbanks, Contention City, which are all ghost towns now. Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apaches were having a fine time outwitting the U.S. Army. The army tired of the game and sent BG George Crook to hunt down Geronimo. Brigadier General Crook's Apache name was "Grey Wolf" and proved himself up to the task. He was a master tactician and administrator. Constantly innovating his strategies and often riding ahead of his troops to check out the geography, he negotiated Geronimo's surrender in the Sierra Madres in 1886. Crook was highly respected and one reporter, Charles Lummis said "In all the line of Indian fighters from Daniel Boone to date, one figure will easily rank all others--a wise, large-hearted, large-minded, strong handed, broad gauge man--General Crook.

Even though the Apache wars were pretty much at an end, Ft. Huachuca remained to protect the area residents from renegades, Mexican bandits, plus outlaws from Tombstone and Bisbee. 

In 1913 the famed Buffalo Soldiers arrived and stayed for almost 20 years. In 1916, Gen. John J. Pershing and the 10th Cavalry showed up for the expedition into Mexico and during first World War, it guarded the U.S./Mexico border.

Now there's a lot of interesting history in the intervening years, but space doesn't permit. Today the Fort is home to the Electronic Proving Grounds, UAVs, and the U.S. Army Intelligence Center. All branches of the military pass through Ft. Huachuca for intelligence training. Our topography and "quiet" atmosphere make it one of only two places in the world that are pristine enough for the electronic testing that's done here. The other is in Australia in case you're interested. 

If you're ever in Sierra Vista, take time to visit the Fort. The museum is great and it's free. You'll want to make a donation though.  There is more than a nod to the past as you travel on post, and it was declared a national landmark in 1976. The community's partner and economic foundation, the Fort is more important than ever today as it continues its defense  of America.

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Positively encouraging

7/07/2012

Another Wild West Tale

I thought it was time for another bit of Cochise County history this week. Instead of a person or event, we're looking at a place. It's the main employer and biggest presence in our area, which is Ft. Huachuca. It's pronounced wah-choo-ka, in case you're wondering how to wrap your tongue around it. An obscure Indian word that loosely means "place of thunder." 

The whole thing came about in 1877 when Capt. Samuel Whitside and Company B, 6th U.S. Cavalry were tasked with protecting the settlers and controlling the Apaches from finding refuge over the border. Trying to find a good camping place for his men, the Captain settled on a beautiful canyon that was wooded with lots of running water, had excellent places for observation, and plenty of grass for their horses. So Camp Huachuca was established, gaining the title Ft. Huachuca five years later and designated a permanent Army post.

There was a lot of action in the late 1800s--Tombstone was in its heyday, as were several other towns such Charleston, Fairbanks, Contention City, which are all ghost towns now. Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apaches were having a fine time outwitting the U.S. Army. The army tired of the game and sent BG George Crook to hunt down Geronimo. Brigadier General Crook's Apache name was "Grey Wolf" and proved himself up to the task. He was a master tactician and administrator. Constantly innovating his strategies and often riding ahead of his troops to check out the geography, he negotiated Geronimo's surrender in the Sierra Madres in 1886. Crook was highly respected and one reporter, Charles Lummis said "In all the line of Indian fighters from Daniel Boone to date, one figure will easily rank all others--a wise, large-hearted, large-minded, strong handed, broad gauge man--General Crook.

Even though the Apache wars were pretty much at an end, Ft. Huachuca remained to protect the area residents from renegades, Mexican bandits, plus outlaws from Tombstone and Bisbee. 

In 1913 the famed Buffalo Soldiers arrived and stayed for almost 20 years. In 1916, Gen. John J. Pershing and the 10th Cavalry showed up for the expedition into Mexico and during first World War, it guarded the U.S./Mexico border.

Now there's a lot of interesting history in the intervening years, but space doesn't permit. Today the Fort is home to the Electronic Proving Grounds, UAVs, and the U.S. Army Intelligence Center. All branches of the military pass through Ft. Huachuca for intelligence training. Our topography and "quiet" atmosphere make it one of only two places in the world that are pristine enough for the electronic testing that's done here. The other is in Australia in case you're interested. 

If you're ever in Sierra Vista, take time to visit the Fort. The museum is great and it's free. You'll want to make a donation though.  There is more than a nod to the past as you travel on post, and it was declared a national landmark in 1976. The community's partner and economic foundation, the Fort is more important than ever today as it continues its defense  of America.

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